It has been two week that Microsoft's annual Professional Developers' Conference for 2008 came to an end.By all testaments I could find on the web, it has been a tremendous hit and the online sessions I have watched so far are really, really good.
Microsoft made a great deal of announcements: Windows 7 and Windows Azure were the most popular on the list. Apart from fancy high-tech jargon, if we were to decode in computer science terms where Microsoft places the big bets, we should mention:Windows 7 design. Windows 7 is the next desktop operating system from Microsoft, after the heavily criticized Windows Vista and its highly-advertised failure (actually Vista with Service Pack 1 has become much stable). Among other things, Windows 7, is claimed to be a much more scalable system, even up to 256 processors! Having this kind of scalability, is of course not targeted to low-end users like me and if it was, I wouldn't be able to notice it. However, if this is true, we could experience a sharp boom in high-end computational power. This interview with Mark Russinovich, a famous Windows Expert, will give you a much more technical view into the challenges of Windows 7.
In his keynote speech, Ray Ozzie (photo), Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, began with introducing Windows Azure, baptising it "Windows OS on the cloud". You can read my thoughts on cloud computing on a post I wrote some months ago. In summary, I am not the perfect fan of the idea but Microsoft on the other hand has no choice than competing directly with Amazon, Google and Yahoo! who are already into this area. Bundled with Microsoft's unbeatable developer support, it could rapidly gain much interest.
Finally, one cannot but take notice of the volume of sessions and talks about the .NET Framework which has already a prominent place in Windows developers. Microsoft is working hard on making it even more complete and adding all kinds of cool stuff in it. Microsoft announced .NET version 4.0 (current is 3.5) which will have a great deal of interesting goodies like parallel processing extensions, design-by-contract classes which lets build a kind of SLAs inside the code of your methods, a new functional programming language F#, and many more.
It is really to hard to have everything all included here. I made a quick overview, on Microsoft's take on the future and as time goes by I will try to research deeper on some things (functional programming is going to be our next topic). I highly recommend you to go over the PDC sessions which are available online. Even if you are not into Windows programming, they are very interesting and funny (especially the F# presentation)
So, to recap, Microsoft is moving, and when it does so, by the law of nature and given its big mass, it moves anything that surrounds it, and this is a fact either you hate or love Microsoft.